Ordinary People | Study Guide

Judith Guest

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Ordinary People | Characters

Character Description
Conrad Conrad "Connie" Jarrett is a 17-year-old high school student. Once an excellent student and a reliable swimmer, he suffers from depression and PTSD and has attempted suicide. Read More
Calvin Calvin "Cal" Jarrett is 41-year-old tax attorney and grieving father. He has been under the illusion of a happy marriage and fulfilling life. Read More
Beth Beth Jarrett, a 39-year-old housewife meticulous in all she does, enjoys socializing, organizing, and sports. She lives superficially and avoids confronting her family's emotions as well as her own. Read More
Dr. Berger A psychiatrist with an office in Evanston, a grittier suburb of Chicago, Dr. Tyrone Berger is wise, insightful, and empathetic. Read More
Jeannine The new girl at school, Jeannine Pratt has moved to Lake Forest with her mother and brother after her parents' divorce. Conrad asks her out, and they begin dating. Read More
Karen Aldrich Conrad's friend Karen Aldrich, a high school student whom he met while both were hospitalized for attempting suicide, stops therapy. Thinking she is responsible for her own recovery, she ends up killing herself not long after her return to school.
Arnold Bacon Arnold Bacon was Calvin's mentor who encouraged and supported him through school. He withdrew his support because he disapproved of Calvin's marriage to Beth.
Audrey Butler Audrey Butler is Beth's sister-in-law who lives in Texas. Perceptive about people, she is first to voice the idea of emotions as Beth's enemy.
Ellen Butler Beth's mother and Conrad's grandmother, Ellen Butler can be bossy and is not afraid to share her unpopular opinions.
Howard Butler Beth's father and Conrad's grandfather, Howard Butler is concerned about Conrad.
Ward Butler Ward Butler is Beth's brother who lives in Texas. Appearances are important to him, as they are to Beth.
Cherry Cherry is Calvin and Ray's young and not very competent secretary.
Dr. Crawford Though he does not appear in the novel, Dr. Crawford is Conrad's doctor during his hospital stay. He is less sympathetic and more businesslike than Dr. Berger.
Paul Ferrier Jeannine's mother's boyfriend, whom Jeannine dislikes, Paul Ferrier is the reason Jeannine's parents divorced.
Don Genthe One of Conrad's swim team buddies, Don Genthe is not happy about the extra coaching Conrad has been receiving from Mr. Salan.
Marty Genthe Marty Genthe is Don's mother and a gossipy friend of Calvin and Beth's. At a party she asks Calvin about Conrad, upsetting Beth when Calvin reveals what she considers private information about their family.
Nancy Hanley Married to Calvin's friend and business partner, Nancy Hanley has stayed with her husband, Ray, despite his infidelity and despite her lost illusions about him. Beth confides in her about the state of her and Calvin's marriage.
Ray Hanley Calvin's longtime friend and business partner, cliché-spouting Ray Hanley is supportive of Calvin's situation.
Jordan "Buck" Jarrett Known as Buck, Jordan is the Jarretts' older son who died in a sailing accident. Seen only in flashback, he is characterized as carefree, daring, and gregarious.
Carole Lazenby Carole Lazenby is a friend of the Jarretts and the mother of Joe. A warm and friendly woman, she takes a class on "Search for Identity."
Joe Lazenby Kinder and more sympathetic than some of the other boys, Joe Lazenby was best friends with Buck and Conrad before Buck's death. Joe's relationship with Conrad became strained because it brought back memories for Conrad, but Conrad renews the friendship after his recovery.
Miss Mellon Conrad's English teacher, Miss Mellon assigns Conrad a term paper on Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.
Suzanne Mosely Suzanne Mosely is a classmate of Conrad's who is struggling in math. He offers to help her, and later she develops a crush on him, telling Jeannine he is one of the only nice guys at school.
Phil Murray Insurance salesman Phil Murray, whom Calvin finds insufferable, is new in the Jarretts' social circle. Beth and Calvin attend a party at his house.
Sara Murray Married to Phil, Sara Murray, who dresses provocatively, is new in the Jarretts' social circle. Beth and Calvin attend a party at her house.
Ms. Pratt Ms. Pratt is Jeannine's mother. She divorced Jeannine's father because of Paul Ferrier, whom she still dates.
Mike Pratt Mike Pratt is Jeannine's younger brother who likes to play guitar.
Mr. Salan The insensitive swim team coach, Mr. Salan offers Conrad extra help but asks whether he had shock treatment at the hospital.
Lynn Searles Lynn Searles is the former secretary with whom Ray Hanley had an affair.
Kevin Stillman Kevin Stillman is a classmate of Conrad's and is also on the swim team. He often antagonizes Conrad, who finally punches him in the face.
Phil Truan Conrad's classmate and fellow swim team member, Phil Truan is a nice guy, according to Conrad.
Dick "Dickie" Van Buren Dick Van Buren is Conrad's classmate and also on the swim team. Joe Lazenby drives him to school along with Stillman and Conrad.
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